Opinion: Town council hasty, should have looked at housing study

Chelsey Fisher

Kevin Griffin

Chelsey FisherThe Boone Town Council approved 4-1 the new work force housing standards Tuesday, Feb. 19, after adding a few amendments.

These standards require each property to have a garage, a master bedroom that is 25 percent larger than the rest and to allow no more than two unrelated occupants to share a residence, according to an article in the Feb. 20 issue of The Appalachian.

The goal is to make housing more affordable for everyone while providing workers in Boone a place to live so they do not have to commute to work from out of town, Pam Williamson, a member of the Affordable Housing Task Force, said in The Appalachian.  

While the work force housing standards are a good idea in theory, these ideas were too rushed and ignored one huge factor: the housing study currently being completed by the Town of Boone.

This study, which will be finished in April, has cost Boone taxpayers over $21,000 to complete, and will calculate the exact housing needs in Boone, town council member Allen Schrelan said at the Feb. 19 town council meeting.

With this study, the town will be able to determine if there is too much student housing in Boone. If that proves to be the case, the new standards would make much more sense.

Williamson said there is currently a 5 percent over supply of student housing, which proves that there is not a current demand for it.

However, town council member Andy Ball, who voted for the standards, told The Appalachian that there is no way to determine the needs – or lack of needs – of housing until the study is released.

If there is a surplus of student housing, it makes sense to cut down on the number of complexes being built for students. And if there is not enough student housing, the town should work to allow complexes to be built.
It is completely understandable that town council would want to provide everyone, not just students, with affordable housing in Boone.

But a decision this large should not have been determined by the opinions of people in the town, but by more facts, which is something the housing study could have provided.

Fisher, a junior journalism major from Fayetteville, is the managing editor.